Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is no stranger to media controversies. However, this time he's embroiled in a dustup not over his comments about a rival manager, but rather, his own players. You see, it seems that Jose Mourinho has had his "47% comment" and is now the soccer world's version of Mitt Romney.
Earlier this week, footage was leaked on French television of Mourinho having a private conversation and bemoaning the weakness of his strikers – Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres, and Demba Ba. In spite of being the least fancied of the three at this late stage in his career, Eto'o has started the most games in all competitions, scoring 8 goals in 21 starts. Considering both Luis Suarez (23) and Daniel Sturridge (21) of Liverpool have scored more goals than all of Chelsea's strikers combined, it's fair to say the frontline is the weakness of Chelsea's insanely expensive roster that currently leads the Premier League by a point over Arsenal.
Mourinho seems to agree with that sentiment, although he never meant for it to be aired in public. Apparently French TV station Canal Plus publicly aired private comments from Mourinho about his admiration for Monaco striker Falcao and his thoughts on being a "team without a striker." Via The Independent:
"The problem with Chelsea is I lack a striker. I have Eto'o but he is 32 years old, maybe 35, who knows?"
“I need a striker, Falcao needs a club,” Mourinho reportedly continued. “A player like him cannot play in front of 3,000 people. Monaco is a club to end (your career with).”
Before his Champions League showdown with Galatasaray, Mourinho blasted the media-at-large for leaking what he believed to be private comments and making them public, via The Metro.
‘You [the media] should be embarrassed as media professionals. From an ethical point of view, it’s a real disgrace,’ said Mourinho.
Just to complete the story, Canal Plus has maintained that there was no way Mourinho could have thought the comments were private because their camera crew was on hand and already filming in comments to CNN.
"We are very surprised by Jose Mourinho's comments, claiming it was off the record. The camera was located 50 centimeters, maybe one meter away from him. It was a tight close up. The discussion was informal, but it was held in the middle of a large group of people, including our cameraman. So there is no way Mourinho could ignore he was filmed."
It's likely that Mourinho will be able to soothe things over with his disgruntled strike force. He has no other choice at this point with just a few months left in the season. But the bigger story is the leaking of what were believed to be private comments that were off the record into the public domain. It used to be that publishing comments that had any question at all of being off the record were taboo in journalism. However, in the new age of social media, cell phones, and immediate access everywhere you go, we've seen countless examples of public figures befallen by something they didn't know was being taped.
You can say what you want about whether that's ultimately good or bad for journalism and society, but the truth is it's a reality of the current world. And everyone, even soccer managers, have to be aware of it.